LOREX People

LOREX: Participant Biographies

Principal Investigators

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Adina Paytan - Research Professor, Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz

Adina Paytan is a research professor at the University of California Santa Cruz. Her principal research interests lie in the fields of biogeochemistry, chemical oceanography, and paleoceanography.  The goal of her research is to use the chemical and isotopic records enclosed in diverse earth materials to study present and past biogeochemical processes. This research spans a wide range of temporal (seasons to millions of years) and spatial (molecular to global) scales.  An overarching goal of this research is to understand the processes and feedbacks operating in the Earth System and how they relate to global changes in climate and tectonics. In addition, Adina is interested in natural and anthropogenically induced perturbations that affect biogeochemical processes and their impact on humans and the environment. Adina considers education and outreach as integral components of her scientific activity and dedicates time to providing professional development and mentoring opportunities to students of all ages and early-career scientists. Adina is an ASLO Fellow and served as an associate editor for Limnology and Oceanography Methods. You can contact her at [email protected]

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Michael Pace - Former ASLO President

Michael Pace's research focuses on aquatic ecosystems with an emphasis on food web interactions and biogeochemistry. He works in a variety of environments including lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and coastal lagoons. He is currently conducting research on resilience of aquatic ecosystems, effects of invasive species, synchrony of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and harmful algal blooms. His work considers questions about the structure and function of aquatic ecosystems and the causes and consequences of environmental change.

Michael received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia. He did his graduate work at the University of Georgia receiving an M.S. in Zoology and Ph.D. in Ecology. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at McGill University and an Assistant Professor of Oceanography at the University of Hawaii. Prior to joining the University of Virginia in 2008, he was a Senior Scientist and Assistant Director at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York. He is currently a Commonwealth Professor at the University of Virginia. He was recognized by ASLO with the G. Evelyn Hutchinson Medal in 2009 and by the International Society of Limnology with the Naumann-Thienemann Medal in 2016. He served as ASLO President from 2018-2020.

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Linda Duguay - Former ASLO President

Linda Duguay received her BA in Biology from the University of Rhode Island (URI) and her MS and Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from the University of Miami (UM), Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. She is the Director of the University of Southern California (USC) Sea Grant Program and Director of Research for the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies at USC.  She served as President of ASLO from 2016-2018).

Linda's research interests are in plankton ecology of ctenophores, algal invertebrate symbioses, benthic ecology with a focus on disturbance in dredge material sites and problems of the urban ocean such as water quality and changing climate effects on ecosystems.

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Brittany Schieler, ASLO Director of Communications and Programs

[email protected]

LOREX Fellows

Rachel Weisend (Spring-Summer 2023)

Jessica Bellworthy (Fall 2022 - Spring 2023)

Eilea Knotts (Fall 2019 - Spring 2020)

Brittany Schieler (Spring 2019)

Maha Cziesielski (Fall 2019)

LOREX Participants

Umeå University, Sweden

Cheristy Jones
University of New Hampshire

Cheristy is a third year PhD student at the University of New Hampshire in the Trace Gas Biogeochemistry Lab working with Dr. Ruth Varner. She studies landscape connectivity in the Arctic. Specifically, her research focuses on linking vertical methane and carbon dioxide emissions to lateral carbon transport and transformation in the Arctic. She aims to conduct research with local communities to help inform local and global policy decisions. Prior to her PhD she received her BA in Environmental Science with Distinction at Colorado College and was a member of the Watershed Biogeochemistry Lab working with Dr. Rebecca Barnes. This summer Cheristy will work with Dr. Jan Karlsson and his lab at Umeå University. Her LOREX project aims to characterize methane and carbon dioxide fluxes at high-spatial frequency across the Stordalen Mire catchment to better understand the mechanisms controlling carbon cycling and greenhouse gas dynamics across the land-water interface.

Dalhousie University, Canada

Lex Berger
George Mason University

Alexis (Lex) is a fourth-year PhD candidate in Dr. Jennifer Salerno’s Integrative Microbial Ecology Lab at George Mason University. Lex's research interests cover a broad range of microbial ecology topics – from bioluminescent microbial symbioses to bacterioplankton dynamics in estuaries. Lex grew up immersed in the ocean and aquatic life in South Florida and was able to pursue their passion in marine biology and eventually fell in love with estuaries. They earned their BS in Marine Science at Eckerd College and MS in Marine Science at Nova Southeastern University. The Salerno Lab fostered the perfect opportunity to pursue Lex’s interest in estuarine ecosystems. Their PhD work is focused on characterizing the biological and functional diversity of the microbial communities found in the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers across a range of environmental gradients. Benthic cyanobacteria, one of the communities found in these environments, have been forming harmful algal blooms and affecting Virginia for the last 20 years. Bacterioplankton dynamics in both rivers have been severely understudied and have become a major concern in water quality. For their LOREX project, Lex is working to develop an ecological model to predict the effects of changing environmental conditions on benthic cyanobacterial distribution and function using 16S rRNA amplicon and metagenome sequencing in conjunction with current and historical environmental data. To do this work, Lex will be collaborating with Associate Professor Dr. Christopher Algar at Dalhousie University. This study is part of a larger overarching effort to characterize bacterioplankton communities in the Potomac River Estuary, their response to a changing climate, and resulting impacts on biogeochemical cycling in the ecosystem.  Lex looks forward to building new relationships, developing new research skills, and experiencing working internationally through this exchange.

Shaun Eisner
University of Maryland, College Park

Shaun Eisner is working on his PhD in ocean sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park. His research interests lie in ocean physical-biological interactions and data assimilation with an emphasis on understanding the relationship between ocean circulation and the distribution of oceanic tracers, such as dissolved oxygen or phytoplankton concentration. His research is focused on understanding how sea ice retreat and it's indirect consequences (such as enhanced wind forcing and freshwater input) are driving changes to phytoplankton and their productivity, as well as understanding what this means for polar and subpolar marine ecosystems. He is also currently involved in developing a global observational analysis of ocean surface circulation that aims to be physically consistent with observations of oceanic tracers such as sea surface temperature, sea ice, and ocean color.

GRIL - University of Quebec in Montreal

Jessica Briggs
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Jess is a third-year PhD Canidate in the Freshwater and Marine Science program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Center for Limnology working with Dr. Grace Wilkinson. Before pursuing her PhD, Jess earned her B.S. in Environmental Resource Management from Penn State University. Her research focuses on carbon and nutrient cycling in human-impacted aquatic ecosystems, including work on greenhouse gas production, nutrient stoichiometry, and ecosystem metabolism. She studies how biogeochemical processing rates and mechanisms change across a gradient of nutrient enrichment and how disturbances like storms events can change these processes. Most of Jess's work focuses on urban pond ecosystems in Madison, WI. Through the LOREX program, Jess will work with Dr. Yves Prairie and Dr. Paul del Giorgio at UQAM to investigate the temporal dynamics of ebullitive, or bubble-based, methane flux in two contrasting ecosystems using newly developed ebullition samplers. Jess is excited to collaborate with scientists at UQAM and the broader GRIL and experience a new type of study ecosystem!

Amanda Theall 
University of New Hampshire

Amanda is a 1st year MS student at the University of New Hampshire where she works with Professor Adam Wymore. Her current research focuses on the terrestrial-aquatic linkages of greenhouse gas dynamics in headwater stream systems. Prior to starting graduate school, she completed her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Geology and Environmental Studies at Case Western Reserve University.

Through the ASLO LOREX program, Amanda will be working with Dr. Paul del Giorgio at UQAM on a comparative analysis of riverine greenhouse gas dynamics within three biomes: tropical, temperate forest, and boreal. She will be comparing carbon dioxide and methane concentrations between similar Strahler order streams within these three biomes. This project will further current understanding of stream carbon greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale.

Amanda is excited to collaborate internationally and expand her thesis project to include the boreal biome through the support of the ASLO LOREX program.

University of Haifa, Israel

Antrelle Clark
Auburn University

Antrelle is a PhD student in the Department of Biological Sciences at Auburn University where she works under the advisorship of Dr. Anthony G. Moss and Dr. Moisés A. Bernal. Her research focuses on understanding the impacts climate change pose on symbiotic relationships and later down the line, the Gulf Killifish. More specifically, she uses the “notorious invader” ctenophore model to understand the diversification and dispersal patterns of comb plate attached amoeba. The LOREX program will help expand her knowledge on the correlation between climate change and diversification/dispersal patterns by providing a location outside of the ctenophores’ native territory that is known to experience high ctenophore population counts during the hotter months of the year. She is very excited to be returning to her primary LOREX research site, where she will continue learning new techniques/approaches to her dissertation, while working alongside her labmates in the Applied Marine Biology and Ecology Research (AMBER) lab under Dr. Dror L. Angel.

Jackson Vanfleet-Brown
San Francisco State University

Jackson is completing his MS in Interdisciplinary Marine and Estuarine Sciences at San Francisco State University, California, USA. Prior to this, Jackson sailed as a bridge watch officer and hydrographer aboard NOAA Ship Fairweather where he developed an interest in ocean acoustics through operating multibeam sonars. For his thesis research, he is now training a model that classifies different species of odontocetes (toothed whales) based on acoustic features of their echolocation clicks. This research is needed to estimate population size based on sound recordings that are collected from drifting buoys used as low-cost, autonomous survey platforms. For his LOREX research exchange, Jackson will go to Israel to collaborate with Dr. Roee Diamant at University of Haifa. Their project will investigate whether ship noise has an impact on the vocal behavior of sperm whales.

Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia

Abby Webster
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Abby is entering her 4th year as a PhD student in Dr. Roxanne Razavi’s Environmental Toxicology Lab at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF). Abby’s research interests can be broadly summarized as the connection and interaction between environmental and human health. For her PhD, Abby studies benthic cyanobacteria and their toxin production in the nearshore of freshwaters. Most of her work has been in the Finger Lakes in New York State (NYS), but in 2023, Abby participated in LOREX cohort 3 where she traveled to Lismore New South Wales, Australia to study nitrogen fixation by diazotrophic benthic cyanobacteria using a stable isotope tracer method. There, she found the same genus and toxin that she studies in NYS, which led to the idea for her second LOREX proposal. Abby will return to the Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry (CCB) in 2024 to test toxicity in response to different environmental variables and in relation to their rate of nitrogen fixation. She will repeat this experiment with the population of benthic cyanobacteria she studies in NYS, offering a unique opportunity to study two toxic populations of the same genus in contrasting environments. After a truly impactful exchange at the CCB in 2023, Abby can’t wait to return in 2024 to finalize data collection for her PhD thesis and continue working with the community of excellent researchers at the CCB.

James Westphalen
Georgia Southern University

James is a first year PhD student in the Institute of Coastal Plain Science at Georgia Southern University. His research background is in carbon fluxes in blue carbon ecosystems, and his future research goals are in enhancing the natural carbon sequestration of blue carbon ecosystems using carbon capture technology. He is investigating how the natural weathering effects of silicate rock dust can increase dissolved carbon exports from coastal ecosystems such as salt marshes, and how the application of these methods may affect the target ecosystems. James will be collaborating with Dr. Bradley Eyre at the Center for Coastal Biogeochemistry at Southern Cross University in Lismore, New South Wales to investigate these carbon capture methods in marsh and mangrove ecosystems in Australia. This work will investigate the effectiveness of enhanced mineral weathering in association with the natural processes of blue carbon ecosystems.

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